Tuesday 4 February 2014

Wood Grades

How to recognise most wood grades, without the brand-jargon

Excellence, Elegant, Diamond, Harvest, Cottage, Exquisite or even Cambridge, Copenhagen. Grade names to inform you about the characteristics of the wooden floor you are choosing? Or why one so-called grade costs more than the other?

Wood You Like applies and promotes the 'KISS' (Keep It Simple Sweetheart) principle. We don't use fantasy or grand names. We use, as much as possible, the classification in grades most of the manufacturers use and which tell you what characteristics you can expect in the floor you buy.
Tropical wood normally comes in two grades: Prime or Rustic.
Prime here means hardly any colour differences between/in the floorboards; where Rustic in Tropical wood means that (many) colour differences between/in boards are allowed (like the yellow streaks in Rustic Merbau). Only some of the tropical woods have knots and if any are found in the boards it's normally in the Rustic grade.
For Oak flooring we use four different grades to distinguish between the typical characteristics of the boards/blocks:

Prime - Nature - Rustic and Industrial.

As with Tropical wood one of difference between these grades is the colour variation but here also the amount and width of knots determines the grade of the floor. And how the log has been cut (see below).
Quarter sawn (Radial)

Log is as much as possible cut at right angles to the heart. Sap canals (medullary rays) show as ‘mirrors’ or 'flecks'. There is a lot of saw-waste in this cutting-process, which translates in the price, but the planks are very stable.
The medullary rays are very specific to Oak and it is one way to distinguish Oak from Chestnut also called "Poor men's Oak" because of the stark resemblance in appearance with Oak. Chestnut is however softer than Oak and doesn't have any medullary rays in boards cut radial.
Half-Quarter Sawn 

Log is cut headlong and afterwards cut in planks. One side of the plank shows one half of the grain. Lower in price than quarter sawn, medium stability.
Dosse Sawn (Tangential)

Log is simply cut in planks, like most pine boards are. Very pronounced grain. This type of cutting can react more to changes in humidity than the two above. Is lower in price and stability.
Side-note: frequently used in 'cheap offers' in solid or wood-engineered Oak floors. The finished result is rather dull in character because there is hardly any variation in the boards. Our own Oak floors always contain a mix of all cutting ways to give your floor the true, authentic and characteristic appearance you expect of it.
PrimeHardly any colour differences; no knots or sapwood (= lighter, sometimes even white colour along the grain). The floor contains mostly quarter sawn and half-quarter sawn boards, some dosse sawn boards.
This grade is frequently used for herringbone and other patterns that uses small blocks. In the U.K. not very popular in floorboards because of price and look (most U.K. customers find this floor too 'neat' and resembling Melamine Laminated flooring instead of real wood).
NatureSome colour differences; some closed knots not larger than 15mm, some sapwood. The floor contains mix of different sawn boards.
RusticColour differences, closed and open knots up to 60mm, some sapwood and tiny dry-cracks are allowed. The floor contains mostly half-quarter and dosse sawn boards, some quarter sawn board possible.
Most popular grade in the U.K. because of its 'lively' character.
IndustrialColour differences, large open and closed knots, sapwood, beetle holes, manufacturing mistakes/damages and size differences (width) allowed. The floor contains all sawn methods with these characteristics in the boards.
Frequently used for mosaic tiles when used as subfloor for herringbone or other pattern floor. Some suppliers/manufacturers sell this grade as the so-called 'Wagon-boards'.
Some floors have a mix in grades. In our Wood Floor Ranges you will find that every floor has a grade classification consistent with the descriptions above.